Commentary Magazine


Topic: East Anglia University

Next Up: Cap-and-Trade?

Every time you think the Obama administration’s chutzpah has maxed out, you read another story that teaches you that this is a quality that should never be underestimated. According to the Daily Beast, senior aides are telling the press that once they are finished ramming an unpopular health-care package down a reluctant Congress’s throat, they will begin the same process with a raft of legislation aimed at further depressing the American economy and increasing Washington’s control of what will be left: cap-and-trade carbon laws aimed at reducing the threat of global warming.

Though last week some of the same sources were claiming that a long overdue immigration-reform package (a goal that George W. Bush tried and failed to achieve due to resistance from his own party) would be the next step, it makes sense that Obama would be more interested in cap-and-trade, since it reflects his own ideological predilections about increasing government power and deferring to international opinion.

Yet even the sympathetic Daily Beast can’t quite fathom how Obama thinks he will force-feed such a dubious proposal to Congress or the American public. As Richard Wolffe writes of the administration’s hubris: “Obama is even taking up climate change — an issue on which, after an anticlimactic summit in Copenhagen and a scandal that raised questions about whether advocates were skewing the research, the president would appear to be swimming entirely upstream. ‘We were never going to go small,’ said one senior Obama aide, referring to the Clinton strategy after his party’s defeat in the 1994 mid-term elections.”

How do we account for such a lack of realism on the part of the White House? The chances of passing cap-and-trade were already quite small even before the revelation of statistical fraud at the crucial Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University and of false claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Does the White House relish being linked to dubious research about melting glaciers in the Himalayas or misleading hockey-stick diagrams purporting to show temperature increases that aren’t there? Does Obama really want to spend the months before the midterm elections watching environmental extremists take center stage as cap-and-trade is debated in Congress? Is he willing to play Sancho Panza to Al Gore as the Nobel Peace Prize laureate jousts with windmills in what would be an obviously futile effort to get Democrats to go along? (Forget about the Republicans ever backing such legislation — especially if they get the opportunity to hand Obama another major defeat before November.)

Perhaps the “senior aides” dishing this story are just blowing smoke at the press, but if true, the idea that global warming is next for Obama shows just how divorced from political reality this administration has become.

Every time you think the Obama administration’s chutzpah has maxed out, you read another story that teaches you that this is a quality that should never be underestimated. According to the Daily Beast, senior aides are telling the press that once they are finished ramming an unpopular health-care package down a reluctant Congress’s throat, they will begin the same process with a raft of legislation aimed at further depressing the American economy and increasing Washington’s control of what will be left: cap-and-trade carbon laws aimed at reducing the threat of global warming.

Though last week some of the same sources were claiming that a long overdue immigration-reform package (a goal that George W. Bush tried and failed to achieve due to resistance from his own party) would be the next step, it makes sense that Obama would be more interested in cap-and-trade, since it reflects his own ideological predilections about increasing government power and deferring to international opinion.

Yet even the sympathetic Daily Beast can’t quite fathom how Obama thinks he will force-feed such a dubious proposal to Congress or the American public. As Richard Wolffe writes of the administration’s hubris: “Obama is even taking up climate change — an issue on which, after an anticlimactic summit in Copenhagen and a scandal that raised questions about whether advocates were skewing the research, the president would appear to be swimming entirely upstream. ‘We were never going to go small,’ said one senior Obama aide, referring to the Clinton strategy after his party’s defeat in the 1994 mid-term elections.”

How do we account for such a lack of realism on the part of the White House? The chances of passing cap-and-trade were already quite small even before the revelation of statistical fraud at the crucial Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University and of false claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Does the White House relish being linked to dubious research about melting glaciers in the Himalayas or misleading hockey-stick diagrams purporting to show temperature increases that aren’t there? Does Obama really want to spend the months before the midterm elections watching environmental extremists take center stage as cap-and-trade is debated in Congress? Is he willing to play Sancho Panza to Al Gore as the Nobel Peace Prize laureate jousts with windmills in what would be an obviously futile effort to get Democrats to go along? (Forget about the Republicans ever backing such legislation — especially if they get the opportunity to hand Obama another major defeat before November.)

Perhaps the “senior aides” dishing this story are just blowing smoke at the press, but if true, the idea that global warming is next for Obama shows just how divorced from political reality this administration has become.

Read Less

Climate in Wonderland

“[T]he different branches of arithmetic — Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.”
— The Mock Turtle, Lewis Carroll’s
Alice in Wonderland

The global climate debate bears an increasing resemblance to Alice’s interview with the White Queen. The world’s hardworking climate agencies can’t seem to issue a single proclamation without contrary evidence popping up, as if on cue, somewhere else. That doesn’t, of course, stop the agencies from issuing proclamations, however much they may deviate from the reality certified to a weary public by actual data.

After yesterday’s leak of the “Danish text,” a backroom proposal for a Copenhagen agreement that has the G-77 developing nations in an uproar, it looked like we had identified this climate summit’s Most Ridiculous Moment — and it was a wholly political one. But today the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has gone the authors of the Danish text one better and announced that the current decade, 2000-2009, is on track to be the “warmest since records began in 1850.”

One wonders whom the WMO imagines to be its audience for such a counterfactual pronouncement. More than one online news outlet has responded promptly with links to the celebrated reports from climate scientists in the past two years that global average temperatures have actually been falling since 1998.

But if that’s not enough to tone down the WMO, perhaps this is: a remarkable study performed by Australian Willis Eschenbach of temperature data from Darwin, on Australia’s north coast, in its raw versus “homogenized” state (h/t: Hot Air). The latter state reflects manipulation of the data by climate scientists at East Anglia University — Climategate U. — to homogenize it for the representation of long-term trends. Such homogenization is, in principle, a perfectly legitimate practice; but in my experience (largely dealing with wave propagation for maritime applications), the manipulation doesn’t, if performed properly, change the direction of the trend line of a data set.

Eschenbach’s eye-opening analysis shows that for the Darwin observation area, the homogenization of temperature data by the East Anglia Climate Research Unit produced a trend line that moves upward, whereas the raw temperature observations show a downward trend over the same 120-year period. Eschenbach’s summary is short, readable, and well worth the time. The graphics alone are head shakers. Not since McIntyre and McKittrick debunked the “Hockey Stick” graph have I seen such compelling evidence of the improper manipulation of climate data.

There just isn’t a “scientific” excuse for data homogenization to turn a long-term downward trend into an upward one. The “Climate in Wonderland” debate is taking Benjamin Disraeli’s famous aphorism about “lies, damned lies, and statistics” to a whole new level. There may be some comfort in the knowledge that this pattern in human discourse has been with us for some time. But Disraeli spoke from an era that had not yet seen Nazi Germany, the USSR, or Communist China. The cost of ignoring the statistical manipulation done to advance political causes has gone up exponentially since Disraeli’s century.

“[T]he different branches of arithmetic — Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision.”
— The Mock Turtle, Lewis Carroll’s
Alice in Wonderland

The global climate debate bears an increasing resemblance to Alice’s interview with the White Queen. The world’s hardworking climate agencies can’t seem to issue a single proclamation without contrary evidence popping up, as if on cue, somewhere else. That doesn’t, of course, stop the agencies from issuing proclamations, however much they may deviate from the reality certified to a weary public by actual data.

After yesterday’s leak of the “Danish text,” a backroom proposal for a Copenhagen agreement that has the G-77 developing nations in an uproar, it looked like we had identified this climate summit’s Most Ridiculous Moment — and it was a wholly political one. But today the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has gone the authors of the Danish text one better and announced that the current decade, 2000-2009, is on track to be the “warmest since records began in 1850.”

One wonders whom the WMO imagines to be its audience for such a counterfactual pronouncement. More than one online news outlet has responded promptly with links to the celebrated reports from climate scientists in the past two years that global average temperatures have actually been falling since 1998.

But if that’s not enough to tone down the WMO, perhaps this is: a remarkable study performed by Australian Willis Eschenbach of temperature data from Darwin, on Australia’s north coast, in its raw versus “homogenized” state (h/t: Hot Air). The latter state reflects manipulation of the data by climate scientists at East Anglia University — Climategate U. — to homogenize it for the representation of long-term trends. Such homogenization is, in principle, a perfectly legitimate practice; but in my experience (largely dealing with wave propagation for maritime applications), the manipulation doesn’t, if performed properly, change the direction of the trend line of a data set.

Eschenbach’s eye-opening analysis shows that for the Darwin observation area, the homogenization of temperature data by the East Anglia Climate Research Unit produced a trend line that moves upward, whereas the raw temperature observations show a downward trend over the same 120-year period. Eschenbach’s summary is short, readable, and well worth the time. The graphics alone are head shakers. Not since McIntyre and McKittrick debunked the “Hockey Stick” graph have I seen such compelling evidence of the improper manipulation of climate data.

There just isn’t a “scientific” excuse for data homogenization to turn a long-term downward trend into an upward one. The “Climate in Wonderland” debate is taking Benjamin Disraeli’s famous aphorism about “lies, damned lies, and statistics” to a whole new level. There may be some comfort in the knowledge that this pattern in human discourse has been with us for some time. But Disraeli spoke from an era that had not yet seen Nazi Germany, the USSR, or Communist China. The cost of ignoring the statistical manipulation done to advance political causes has gone up exponentially since Disraeli’s century.

Read Less

Global-Warming Cognitive Dissonance at the Nation

The evidence-suppressing academics at East Anglia University aren’t the only global-warming true believers who seem to be in a bit of a fog these days. Over at the Nation, two separate pieces both seem to acknowledge that the public is increasingly resistant to the deluge of environmental alarmism they’ve been peddling.

In a feature in their Dec. 21 print issue that is currently available on their website, Christopher Hayes bemoans the fact that global-warming hysteria isn’t selling as well as it used to. Hayes cites a Washington Post/ABC poll that shows a marked decline in support for the basic premise of global warming and an even more precipitate drop in the total of those who accept the theory that a rise in temperatures is the result of human activity.

How does Hayes explain this refusal of so many Americans to accept the dogma that is repeated endlessly in the media and throughout the culture almost without challenge? Of course, he ignores recent scandals such as the East Anglia affair, as well as the fact that, contrary to predictions, the planet hasn’t gotten any warmer in the past decade, something even the New York Times has acknowledged.

Instead, Hayes mostly blames it on the economic crisis and partisan hatred for Barack Obama. But that’s not all. He also blames the global-warming activists themselves for not being sufficiently scary. That’s right. Despite all the apocalyptic threats that have been put forward on behalf of this thesis based on theoretical models, Hayes believes that we haven’t had enough environmental hysteria. He believes the warming alarmists must stop talking about “green jobs” and the economic opportunities they claim will spring from the disastrous cap-and-trade policies they advocate. Instead, he wants them to just scream “the planet is melting.” I guess that’s supposed to reinforce the Left’s self-image as the advocates of reason and science.

But elsewhere on the Nation website, you can get a slightly different take on the same issue. In a video interview with Nation editorial-board member Tony Kushner, the famous playwright has his own riff on the question. Kushner modestly brushes off the praise of the magazine staffer plying the questions by saying that the mention of “the impact of human lives on the environment” in his 1991 play Angels in America in which “character Hannah Pitt fretted about the hole in the ozone layer” didn’t make him a prophet. He was just writing about what was “in the news” then as now, he claims. Though he puts down all skepticism about the theory to “greed” on the part of evil industrialists, he goes on to say that he thinks that the lack of progress toward passing economy-crippling measures aimed to stop global warming is due to the fact that people are aware of the impending catastrophe but are too numbed by its enormity to act. Kushner even thinks that, contrary to the evidence leaking out from East Anglia, the global-warming crowd has understated the danger so as not to create mass panic.

For those who want a small taste of Kushner’s idea of environmental reform, consider the passage where he fondly remembers the halt in commercial-airline flights after the 9/11 attacks, which he claims created a “staggering decrease in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere!”

So what’s the answer here? Are we too scared by the specter of being cooked like a hot dog at Nathan’s in less than a decade, as Kushner thinks, or, as Hayes theorizes, have we not been frightened enough? Either way, it’s clear that the real fear on the Left is that more of the public isn’t buying their scare stories anymore.

The evidence-suppressing academics at East Anglia University aren’t the only global-warming true believers who seem to be in a bit of a fog these days. Over at the Nation, two separate pieces both seem to acknowledge that the public is increasingly resistant to the deluge of environmental alarmism they’ve been peddling.

In a feature in their Dec. 21 print issue that is currently available on their website, Christopher Hayes bemoans the fact that global-warming hysteria isn’t selling as well as it used to. Hayes cites a Washington Post/ABC poll that shows a marked decline in support for the basic premise of global warming and an even more precipitate drop in the total of those who accept the theory that a rise in temperatures is the result of human activity.

How does Hayes explain this refusal of so many Americans to accept the dogma that is repeated endlessly in the media and throughout the culture almost without challenge? Of course, he ignores recent scandals such as the East Anglia affair, as well as the fact that, contrary to predictions, the planet hasn’t gotten any warmer in the past decade, something even the New York Times has acknowledged.

Instead, Hayes mostly blames it on the economic crisis and partisan hatred for Barack Obama. But that’s not all. He also blames the global-warming activists themselves for not being sufficiently scary. That’s right. Despite all the apocalyptic threats that have been put forward on behalf of this thesis based on theoretical models, Hayes believes that we haven’t had enough environmental hysteria. He believes the warming alarmists must stop talking about “green jobs” and the economic opportunities they claim will spring from the disastrous cap-and-trade policies they advocate. Instead, he wants them to just scream “the planet is melting.” I guess that’s supposed to reinforce the Left’s self-image as the advocates of reason and science.

But elsewhere on the Nation website, you can get a slightly different take on the same issue. In a video interview with Nation editorial-board member Tony Kushner, the famous playwright has his own riff on the question. Kushner modestly brushes off the praise of the magazine staffer plying the questions by saying that the mention of “the impact of human lives on the environment” in his 1991 play Angels in America in which “character Hannah Pitt fretted about the hole in the ozone layer” didn’t make him a prophet. He was just writing about what was “in the news” then as now, he claims. Though he puts down all skepticism about the theory to “greed” on the part of evil industrialists, he goes on to say that he thinks that the lack of progress toward passing economy-crippling measures aimed to stop global warming is due to the fact that people are aware of the impending catastrophe but are too numbed by its enormity to act. Kushner even thinks that, contrary to the evidence leaking out from East Anglia, the global-warming crowd has understated the danger so as not to create mass panic.

For those who want a small taste of Kushner’s idea of environmental reform, consider the passage where he fondly remembers the halt in commercial-airline flights after the 9/11 attacks, which he claims created a “staggering decrease in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere!”

So what’s the answer here? Are we too scared by the specter of being cooked like a hot dog at Nathan’s in less than a decade, as Kushner thinks, or, as Hayes theorizes, have we not been frightened enough? Either way, it’s clear that the real fear on the Left is that more of the public isn’t buying their scare stories anymore.

Read Less




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